You’ve built your small business from the ground up, pouring your heart and soul into making your vision a reality. Now it’s time to take the next step and start accepting credit card payments from your loyal customers. But with so many credit card processing options out there, how do you choose one that’s right for your unique business needs?
The key is finding a processor that offers tailored solutions for small businesses like yours. You want a company focused on the little details, one that understands your challenges and is willing to work with you one-on-one. A processor that charges excessive fees locks you into long-term contracts, and treats you like just another number isn’t going to cut it.
In this article, we’ll explore how to identify the best credit card processors that cater specifically to small businesses. We’ll discuss the types of questions you should ask, the fees and rates to watch out for, and how to spot a processor that will value your business and help you thrive. Choosing the right partner can make a huge difference in keeping your cash flow strong and your customers happy. So let’s dive in and find a credit card processing solution custom-fit for your small business.
Assessing Your Business’s Payment Processing Needs
Now that you know your small business needs a credit card processor to accept payments, it’s time to find one tailored to your needs.
Do you have seasonal spikes or steady transactions year-round? Choose a processor that can handle your average and peak volume efficiently. For sporadic volume, look for no monthly minimum fees. If you have consistent volume, negotiate the best rates.
Average Ticket Size
What’s the typical amount of your customer purchases? Smaller tickets may benefit from a pay-as-you-go plan whereas larger tickets do better with an interchange-plus pricing model. Processors like Square and PayPal are good for smaller tickets, while Helcim and CDGcommerce excel for larger purchases.
Do you need virtual terminals, payment gateways, shopping cart integration or mobile payments? Some processors provide all-in-one solutions while others require third-party integrations. Evaluate your current and future needs to avoid needing multiple processors.
Nothing’s more frustrating than being unable to reach your processor when there’s an issue. Look for 24/7 support via phone, email, and chat. Check reviews from existing clients on responsiveness and helpfulness. Great service can make up for minor shortcomings in features or pricing.
By analyzing what’s most important for your business, you can find a credit card processor tailored to suit your needs perfectly. The right match will provide the solutions and service to keep your customers paying, and your business thriving.
Features to Look for in a Credit Card Processor
Finding a credit card processor that meets the needs of your small business is key. Look for options that provide the features you require without unnecessary extras. Some important things to consider:
Look for processors with interchange-plus pricing, a flat rate, or a subscription model rather than a tiered pricing structure. Interchange-plus passes through the interchange fees charged by card networks and adds a small markup. Flat-rate or subscription models charge a fixed monthly fee regardless of sales volume. These options are usually more transparent and budget-friendly for small businesses.
Unless you need a traditional countertop card terminal, look for processors that offer mobile solutions to accept payments on the go, like card readers that connect to your phone or tablet. Some provide free card readers for basic plans. For retail stores, search for processors that provide countertop terminals with options for contactless (tap to pay) and EMV (chip card) acceptance.
Reporting and Analytics
Robust reporting and analytics help you gain insights into your business. Look for options that provide detailed reports on transaction volumes, ticket sizes, refunds, and chargebacks. Some processors offer additional tools to help track metrics like best-selling products, busiest hours, and customer lifetime value.
For small businesses, quality customer support is essential. Look for processors that provide phone support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in case you have questions or experience any issues. Some of the best processors for small businesses also assign dedicated account managers and support teams to help you get started and provide ongoing assistance.
With the right features and service, you can find an ideal credit card processor tailored to your small business needs. Compare your options carefully based on what really matters for your company’s success.
Questions to Ask When Evaluating the Best Credit Card Processors
When evaluating credit card processors for your small business, there are several key questions you should ask to determine if a provider is the right fit.
What fees will I be charged for each transaction? The most common fees are interchange fees, assessment fees, and markup fees. Make sure you understand exactly what each encompasses and how much the provider charges for each type of card (e.g. Visa vs. American Express). Some providers charge monthly or annual fees as well, so factor those in. The fees should be reasonable for the services offered.
What is the length of the contract? Many contracts are for 1-3 years. Make sure you are comfortable with the term before signing, as terminating early often means paying expensive cancelation fees. Are there any additional terms or conditions I should be aware of? Read the fine print carefully.
What security measures do you have in place to protect customer data? Look for providers that use encryption to safeguard card data and personal information. They should also comply with PCI DSS, the industry standard for payment card data security. Ask about fraud prevention tools and if chargebacks are offered.
Reporting and Analytics
What types of reporting and analytics do you provide? Useful reports include transaction summaries, chargeback alerts, and sales trends. Analytics can help you gain valuable insights into your business and customers. See if reports are customizable and available 24/7 online.
What support do you offer? Look for 24/7 phone and email support in case any issues arise. Response times should be fast, especially for critical problems. Some providers also offer additional support like live chat or onboarding assistance.
By asking the right questions, you can determine which credit card processor provides the tailored solutions that best fit your small business needs. The ideal provider will offer reasonable fees, flexible terms, robust security, useful analytics, and superior customer support.
Negotiating Rates and Fees to Get the Best Deal
Once you’ve found some credit card processors that cater to small businesses, it’s time to negotiate the best deal. Many processors are willing to negotiate their rates and fees, especially if you have a good credit score and processing history. Don’t be afraid to push for the best offer—it can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
Compare the rates of at least three processors. Look at their interchange-plus rates for your most common card types like Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. See if any offer tiered pricing or bundled rates for high-volume months. Check if they charge monthly fees, gateway fees, PCI compliance fees, or early termination fees. Get quotes in writing for the total cost.
Ask for Lower Rates
Tell the processors you’re comparing offers from competitors with lower rates. Ask if they can match or beat those rates to earn your business. Be prepared to provide details on the other quotes. They may lower their rates rather than lose you as a customer.
Waived or Reduced Fees
See if the processor is willing to waive or reduce some of their account fees, especially for the first year. Monthly fees, gateway or terminal fees, and annual PCI fees are costs they may waive or discount to close the deal. Make sure any waived fees are clearly outlined in your contract.
Free Terminal or Equipment
If you need a credit card terminal, card reader, or point-of-sale equipment, try negotiating that into your contract at no upfront cost. The processor can often bundle the equipment with your account if it means winning you over from a competitor. Make sure you understand any obligations or early termination fees if you cancel service within a certain period of time.
Get it in Writing
Once you’ve negotiated the best rates and fees, have the processor provide an updated contract or service agreement in writing before you switch or sign up. Double-check that all the details of your deal are clearly spelled out to avoid confusion or unexpected price hikes down the road. With the right deal in place, you can accept credit cards with confidence knowing you’ve found a processor tailored to meet your small business needs.
So there you have it, the key things to consider when searching for a credit card processor for your small business. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options out there. Focus on processors that specialize in small business accounts and that offer simple, transparent pricing with no hidden fees. Look for a company that provides great customer service and that is willing to tailor a solution to your specific needs. With the right processor by your side, you’ll be able to provide more payment options to your customers and see your sales start to grow. Stop worrying so much about credit card processing and get back to focusing on what really matters – growing your business! You’ve got this.